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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostThu Dec 02, 2021 11:53 am 
As I grow older, I regularly follow happenings in NW Hikers. I am mostly interested in how recent postings intersect with my outdoor activities from the past. As a young person, then through the times our kids were growing up, and until recently, camping, hiking and back packing has been a part of my life. As such I have spent time in many Forest Service and other federal campgrounds here in the northwest. I have seen this experience evolve from going to almost any campground at any time of the week, and expecting to find spaces available to now finding most sites only available on a reservation basis, and reserved through some private agency with a reservation fee involved. Popular sites are often reserved very quickly after they become available, and it's a crap shoot as to whether you will find an open non reserved site anytime through the summer. I can name campgrounds that have either been forced to close such as Elkhorn and the National Park campground on the Dose, or have been turned into day use areas only. There are several of these on the Deschutes upriver from Bend. My question is, has the federal government ever done any studies regarding the supply versus demand for campgrounds? As I was leaving the camping scene, it appeared to me that demand was beginning to out strip supply with no effort being made to try to play catchup, either with creation of new sites or expanding and improving old ones. Recreation was always a part of the original Forest Service multiple use concept, but I don't see the recreation part of it living up to that mandate. Perhaps I am wrong, and the public needs are being satisfied. Comments?

RodF
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Schroder
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PostThu Dec 02, 2021 12:02 pm 
I see it going as a step further these days. They're shutting down the smaller and more primitive campgrounds and pushing people toward the large ones with full hookups that they can charge more for. You have to make reservations a year in advance.

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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Dec 02, 2021 2:05 pm 
Some administrations had a big thing about “privatization” and most campgrounds were privatized to save staff and were manned by free or low paid campground hosts. Some of the operators at least in Oregon were charging daily parking fees on formerly free trailheads on the PCT. Even wilderness passes are done on recreation.com with more fees. Lots of folks resorted to boondocking on FS and BLM where legal the campground operators squaked and more and more boondock sites have been closed. Frequently littering is cited as the reason, COVID made the situation worse as many campgrounds closed at the beginning. To tell the truth recreation always took the lowest priority with the FS and BLM priorities being extractive industries. Cause that’s where the money is.

"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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treeswarper
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PostFri Dec 03, 2021 7:10 am 
In the 1990s, there was a big push to Reinvent Government. This seemed to be the death knell. The thought was that government jobs would be replaced by private contractors. That was the end. Prior to that, those little primitive campgrounds were sacrificed quickly. They were too little used and too far away to justify the work to maintain them. During the "timber wars" a few people in Congress stated that if the timber cut was reduced in the FS, all other programs would have their budgets cut. That added to the problem. And, the timber program provided a lot of perks like road maintenance and in house budgeting, for instance, if a recreation person was not funded for an entire year, they could go work on a timber project, where there was plenty of funding (and money making for the treasury on some forests). It's been a death of a thousand cuts. Just recently, the campground along hwy 20 near The Loup was closed due to constant vandalism. It was a stop overnight on your way to somewhere else campground. Then, other campgrounds have been closed for a year while hazard trees are removed or improvements made. Add into this the pandemic, where camping is one activity that increased, and there is competition for spaces. Most folks with big RVs don't want to drive on a poorly maintained road to a dispersed spot. There are tent and camper folks who will, and then many of those old standby places are now behind closed roads or have been blocked off because they are too close to water, or had poop problems. On this side of the mountains, if you get far enough away from the Seattle commute and Spokane, it is pretty easy to find somewhere on a weekday or not a holiday. That's if you have a tent or non humongus RV. The pressure is on to cut more campground trees to make room for slideouts. One of my camping places has actually been turned into a campground, without many spaces and fees. The FS fenced off half of the area where folks could spread out to camp. I don't know the reason, and I suspect it was to provide water and fancier camping. I still see people grouped together in the single camp spots just like before, but in half the area. On the GP, there were plans to close off many of the spots that were along the Cispus River. Those have been there for eons but now sediment is a reason. There have been threats to close spots along Skate Creek because of poop and trash. An "education" program was started and I think, but am not sure, some toilets put in. I'm sure there are other "reasons". Funding and changed environmental practices are the biggies.

What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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Sculpin
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PostFri Dec 03, 2021 8:04 am 
I think the biggest factor hasn't been mentioned yet. It's too easy to get a reservation on line and then not use it. When I camped at McAlester Lake, I got the last available site and all the more desirable sites at McAlester Pass and Hidden Meadows were also booked. When we got there, there was one other party at the lake and they had no permit. There was only one occupied site at the pass, and no one was camped at Hidden Meadows. frown.gif Just this year, it happened again at a campground on Mt. Adams. Friends had offered us a campsite they could not use and we accepted. The campground was fully reserved that day. We got there and it was cool, cloudy, and half full. The structural problem is that as a middle-class American, the opportunity to use a campsite on a summer weekend if I want it has more value to me than the $30 I might lose if I don't use it.

Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir

zimmertr
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coldrain108
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PostFri Dec 03, 2021 9:03 am 
Sculpin wrote:
The structural problem is that as a middle-class American, the opportunity to use a campsite on a summer weekend if I want it has more value to me than the $30 I might lose if I don't use it.
Back Country backpacking reservations in ONP or MRNP might also suffer from this phenomenon. I always cancel a reservation if I can't use it, but the way it works you have to make the reservation in March for use in July. You never know what is going to happen in that time frame. But I always call to cancel my reservation so that some walk-up will have a chance to use the camp site. Years ago I did the Copper Ridge hike in NCNP, I realized that there were only 3 sites permitted at Copper Lake, I realized I could reserve all 3 (with different names or what not) and have the place to myself. I never did it (ethically poor thing to do), but I wonder if people actually do this to get solitude at a popular quota controlled area.

Since I have no expectations of forgiveness, I don't do it in the first place. That loop hole needs to be closed to everyone.
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altasnob
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PostFri Dec 03, 2021 1:32 pm 
Sculpin wrote:
It's too easy to get a reservation on line and then not use it.
Washington State Parks has a pretty good solution to this problem. If you have a reservation and no show the first night you have until 11 am the next morning to arrive. Otherwise, the rest of your reservation is forfeited. This seems fair to me because some people make a reservation for, say, Friday night, then stuff happens and they aren't able to get out there until Saturday morning.

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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Dec 03, 2021 6:25 pm 
The NP system is terrible we did a 3/4 Copper ridge loop this summer and we’re almost alone for the whole loop. Reservations showed every thing full but we were alone at Boundary, nobody was at Copper Creek, US Cabin, alone again at Graybeal, Alone at Whatcom, tons of folks at Taptoe lakes, alone at Egg Lake and Silesia was empty. great hike but what a waste one of the best hikes in the US if not the world nearly deserted due to the reservation system. Note there was a fire up Bear Creek which may have reduced usage but the lack of flexibility in the system is atrocious. guys we have computers now that and asily handle this.

"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn

zimmertr
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cdestroyer
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PostSat Feb 05, 2022 6:22 pm 
I guess if you are more than one person wanting to camp then I suppose a fixed maintained site is your thing. I camped/hiked alone. left the vehicle at the parking place, (lot or not) and hiked way back in, found a nice spot some distance off the trail and camped. I guess a lot has changed over the years.

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cdestroyer
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PostSun Feb 06, 2022 5:20 pm 
once hiked up the canyon creek trail from hwy 20 to chancellor only to find a 40 rv in the campground.

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timberghost
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PostWed Feb 09, 2022 5:55 am 
Theres a large one entering the Tumwater canyon that has been closed a while at least since the fire there. When I asked the District ranger about why its not opened he said they would have to upgrade the water system. I think it has over 80 campsites.

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treeswarper
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PostSat Feb 12, 2022 8:13 am 
I don't like "dispersed" sites because I wonder about where the poop is. Is it buried deep? Is it shallow where my dog is going to find it? Is my chair over a shallow poop pit? So many of these sites have had so much camping on them by tent campers and all need to poop. I've seen the toilet paper and piles in some very nice spots. Yuck. Grosses me out.

What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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cdestroyer
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PostSat Feb 19, 2022 7:20 am 
dispersed means just that, so dont camp there find another, couldnt be that hard with all that acreage of forest..

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Schroder
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PostSat Feb 19, 2022 10:29 am 
timberghost wrote:
Theres a large one entering the Tumwater canyon that has been closed a while at least since the fire there. When I asked the District ranger about why its not opened he said they would have to upgrade the water system. I think it has over 80 campsites.
There are a lot of Forest Service campgrounds throughout the west that have no water supply and many are open in the winter with their water supplies shut off. This is a pretty lame excuse to keep Tumwater closed. In this case I think it's to drive everyone over to Lake Wenatchee to maximize cash flow.

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Get Out and Go
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PostSat Feb 19, 2022 11:47 am 
Regarding the Tumwater CG, I think the original reasoning was that after the fire, which stretched up the slope and beyond on the other side of the highway, there was a fear of mudslides...so apparently now it's the water system? huh.gif I seem to remember that CG being closed in the past because of some hazardous trees, as well.

"These are the places you will find me hiding'...These are the places I will always go." (Down in the Valley by The Head and The Heart) "Sometimes you're happy. Sometimes you cry. Half of me is ocean. Half of me is sky." (Thanks, Tom Petty)
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